Bulls captaincy an exciting adventure for Ruan NortjeNovember 24, 2022
Ruan Nortje has not captained a team before at senior level, but the willing second-row forward sees his new responsibility as an exciting adventure after he was confirmed as the new Bulls captain for the rest of the season on Thursday.
With Marcell Coetzee enjoying a sabbatical in Japan for the next few months, the Bulls needed a new leader and director of rugby Jake White has gone for one of the team’s inspirational young guns.
Nortje has also been surrounded by an exciting young leadership group including potential future Loftus Versfeld legends like Elrigh Louw and Johann Grobbelaar.
‘Lot of pressure’
“I’m very excited for the challenge and it’s an unbelievably big privilege. I captained a team maybe one or two times in high school but never at professional level or anything,” Nortje said.
“As a lineout leader, there’s also a lot of pressure, and doing that has definitely helped me gain confidence and I’ve learnt a lot about leadership. But I don’t know how I will feel running out in front on Saturday.
“I’ve known about it for a while and had a long time to get my head right for it. It’s another step on my journey towards my greater goals at the Bulls.
“Marcell asked me for a lot of advice on the field and I’ve learnt a lot from him. But the one message from him that stood out was to be myself as captain, don’t try too hard, just lead by example,” Nortje said.
Fits in perfectly
One senses a new, young leadership group fits in perfectly with White’s long-term plan for the Bulls, with the director of rugby recently extending his contract at Loftus Versfeld through to June 2027. While there are still some richly experienced and massively respected older players at the Bulls, the new guard is starting to push itself to the forefront.
“It’s been coming a while, from last season already it came up that Marcell was probably going to go away for a Japan stint,” Nortje said. “Both Marcell and Jake spoke to me about how I would feel about the captaincy. It’s all been done in a systematic way, not just suddenly decided one morning.
“From the first time I played for the Bulls, I think of all the legends who have played before in the No.5 jersey whenever I put it on. Like Victor Matfield, who I will also follow now in his footsteps as captain.
“It’s a big motivation and when under pressure, I feel the best comes out of me. And I’m always chuffed and excited to play every weekend and give my 100%,” Nortje said.
The Bulls will return to United Rugby Championship action on Saturday when they host the Ospreys in Pretoria.
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